After we lose all of our baby teeth, our adult teeth have to last us for the rest of our lives. That’s a lot to ask, given the amount of work and abuse that our teeth have to withstand daily. Thankfully our molars and incisors are up to the tough task.
Even with daily brushing and regular dental check-ups, an adult tooth can become loose. If you’ve noticed that one of your permanent teeth is loose, this can be a sign of some serious dental problems that you should address as soon as possible. Failure to do so could result in losing your tooth–and maybe a few other teeth along with it.
Causes of a loose tooth in an adult
There are many different causes for having a loose adult tooth, and the necessary treatment will vary depending on the cause. The following factors are often responsible for looseness in one or more teeth:
Also known as periodontitis, this disease involves inflammation and infection of the gums. It is usually caused by poor dental hygiene habits. When brushing and flossing do not remove plaque, gum disease can develop. Plaque contains bacteria. It sticks to teeth and hardens over time until only a dental health professional can remove it.
Hardened plaque, known as tartar, causes the gums to pull away from the teeth, creating gaps that can become infected.
Over time, this process can break down the bone and tissue supporting the teeth, causing the teeth to become loose.
Other signs of gum disease include:
- gums that are tender, red, painful, or swollen
- gums that bleed when the teeth are brushed
- gum recession
- changes in the way the teeth fit together
Any signs of gum disease should be checked by a dentist as soon as possible. Early detection and treatment can prevent tooth loss.
Raised levels of estrogen and progesterone during pregnancy can affect the bones and tissues in the mouth.
Having more of these hormones can alter the periodontium, which is the collection of bones and ligaments that support the teeth and keep them in place. When the periodontium is affected, one or more teeth may feel loose.
The changes to this part of the body will resolve after pregnancy, and they are not a cause for concern. However, anyone experiencing pain or loose teeth during pregnancy should see a dentist to rule out gum disease and other oral health problems.
It is safe for pregnant people to have dental checkups, cleanings, and X-rays,. In fact, because of a possible link between gum disease and premature birth, pregnant people are encouraged to see dentists regularly.
Injury to the teeth
Healthy teeth are strong, but an impact from a blow to the face or a car accident, for example, can damage teeth and surrounding tissue. The result may be chipped or loose teeth. Similarly, clenching the teeth during times of stress or grinding them at night can wear down the tissues and loosen the teeth.
Many people are unaware of their clenching or grinding habits until they result in jaw pain. A dentist may be able to detect the problem before the teeth are permanently damaged.
Anyone who suspects that an injury has damaged the teeth should see a dentist as soon as possible. Sports injuries, accidents, and falls, for example, can cause dental damage.
Osteoporosis is a disease that causes the bones to weaken and become porous. As a result, even minor bumps and impacts can lead to broken bones.
While osteoporosis commonly affects the spine, hips, and wrists, it can also damage the bones in the jaw that support the teeth.
If the jaw bones become less dense, the teeth may loosen and fall out. Certain medications used to treat osteoporosis can cause dental health problems, though this is uncommon. In rare cases, drugs called bisphosphonates, which help to treat bone loss, can lead to loose teeth. This is known as osteonecrosis of the jaw.
Authors of one study suggest that osteonecrosis rarely occurs in people who are taking bisphosphonates in pill form, but that the condition may develop in people who receive the medication intravenously. Trauma and surgical procedures, such as tooth extraction, can also cause osteonecrosis.
Should I be worried?
While a loose tooth is typical for children, noticing looseness as an adult is a cause for concern. This occurs when a tooth loses support and slowly detaches from the gums and bone. The slightest touch may cause the tooth to move, and eating or chewing can cause further loosening.
If you develop a loose tooth later in life, you may experience other symptoms as well. These include:
- bleeding gums
- swollen gums
- red gums
- gum recession
These symptoms can indicate an underlying disease, so it’s important to talk to your doctor about a loose tooth. Understanding the cause can help your doctor determine the appropriate treatment.
Is It Ok to Pull a Loose Tooth?
The simple answer is, “No”. While it could be tempting to pull a loose tooth, it should better be avoided, neither you should advise others to do so. In case your child has a baby tooth that’s loose, the root will dissolve naturally over time and the tooth will fall out on its own.
When Should You Pull a Baby Tooth?
Gently pulling out a loose baby tooth can be done in some known ways. However, one should ensure that the tooth is either extremely loose or hanging from the socket before doing so. Also, ensure that your child doesn’t feel any pain when you are trying to pull out the tooth. If your child feels any pain, it’s probably because the root hasn’t dissolved completely and is, therefore, not making the tooth fall off safely.
What Happens if You Pull a Baby Tooth Too Early?
If a baby tooth is pulled out too early, it will result in excessive bleeding, which will make a trip to your dentist necessary. If a baby tooth is lost before the permanent teeth beneath it is ready to emerge, it will allow the adjacent teeth to shift and occupy the vacant space; this will result in the adult tooth having issues before it develops or may grow in a crooked position.
How to Stop a Loose Tooth from Bleeding?
To control the bleeding, dentists recommend using a cotton gauze, soaked in cold water. You should keep the gauze over the bleeding spot, while applying pressure gently for a couple of minutes. If the bleeding still doesn’t stop, you should immediately contact a dentist.
How to deal with emergency loosed tooth?
If you suffered a loose tooth from trauma to the mouth you have two options.
Firstly if a major impact has occurred to the jaw from boxing, rugby, a car accident etc. then you should go to your dentist immediately. An assessment needs to be made on the tooth to see if any nerve damage has occurred. Trauma to the mouth can also cause chips and cracks that can be addressed by your dentist.
Secondly if the trauma was light and the tooth is slightly wobbly then you may want to wait two weeks. Teeth naturally tighten themselves back up over a short period of time. If the affected tooth does not firm -up itself then you need to make an appointment at your dentist for an examination.
Treatment options for a loose tooth
Treatment begins once your doctor identifies the cause of a loose tooth. Depending on the severity of gum disease, you might be a candidate for surgery. A range of treatments can help, and the best option will depend on the cause of the looseness.
Scaling and root planning
If you have gum disease, you’ll need a special dental cleaning procedure to remove hardened plaque that has accumulated underneath your teeth and gums. This is called scaling and root planing. You may also receive antibiotics to help kill any infection. Scaling removes tartar and bacteria, while root planing smooths the root surface and helps the gums reattach to the tooth.
Medications or mouth rinses
These can help infected gums to heal and combat bacteria in the mouth.
Treatment for diabetes
Appropriate treatment is important for dental health.
Your doctor makes incisions in your gums and pulls back the gum tissue to perform a scaling and root planing procedure. Gum tissue is reattached after the procedure. This procedure can prevent tooth loss.
In cases of bone deterioration, your doctor can take fragments of bone from another area of your body or use a special bone grafting material and to repair diseased bone in your mouth. This helps support your teeth.
If a loose tooth hasn’t detached from the guns, your doctor may be able to save the tooth using a splint. Your doctor uses a piece of metal to bond two neighboring teeth. This gives the loose tooth extra support and keeps it from moving.
This procedure reshapes the bite surface of the tooth by removing small amounts of tooth enamel. This reduces pressure on the tooth, allowing it to heal. This is an option for a loose tooth caused by grinding.
Another option for grinding is wearing a night guard while sleeping. This creates a protective barrier between the upper and lower teeth.
How to replace loosed tooth?
If a loose tooth falls out, a dentist can often restore a person’s smile with:
- A dental bridge. This type of crown fits over the teeth on either side of the missing tooth. The result is a bridge between two healthy teeth, connected by a prosthetic, or artificial, tooth in the place of the one that is missing.
- A dental implant. This involves an artificial tooth and root, which is connected to the jawbone.
While these options are effective, it is essential to treat the underlying cause of tooth loss and take any other steps needed to prevent further damage.
A loose tooth can progress and eventually detach completely from the gums and bone. This can occur with severe gum disease or from unresolved teeth grinding. Treatment, however, can improve the health of your gums and bones. This also promotes healing and strengthens teeth.
In cases of severe looseness, your doctor may suggest removing the tooth and replacing it with a dental implant or bridge.
A loose tooth caused by trauma may not be preventable. You can reduce the risk of trauma by wearing mouth guards while playing sports.
Practicing good oral hygiene can prevent a loose tooth caused by gum disease. This includes brushing your teeth at least two or three times a day and flossing daily. You should also schedule regular dental cleanings twice a year, and speak with your dentist if you notice any changes, such as bad breath, painful gums, or bleeding gums. Loose teeth cannot always be prevented, but a person can take steps to reduce the risk. Other tips for tooth and gum health include:
- refraining from smoking
- wearing a bite splint, when nighttime grinding or clenching is an issue
- asking a doctor about calciumand vitamin D supplementation to help prevent osteoporosis
- keeping diabetesunder control, as diabetes is a risk factor for gum disease
- being aware of medications that may affect the teeth